Hunting horns announce the hunt and accompany the hunters during their chase. They also characterize the precise sequences of the hunt. In the few regions of Europe where this now often contested kind of hunting is still practised, the hunting horns serve the same function as in the old days. The specific calls for every aspect of the chase are defined by rhythm and a succession of notes.
From the second half of the 17th century onwards, large-coiled hunting horns were included in the music which accompanied the hunting scenes in French opera.
Following some modifications in the design of the instrument, the horn was integrated into the orchestra in German-speaking areas in the early 18th century. Initially, the music for these more tightly-coiled orchestral horns included the familiar melodic and rhythmic elements of the hunting calls. In due time, independent orchestral horn solos appeared.
Beginning in the late 18th century and continuing into the 19th century, the natural horns played during the chase were designed with more coils; they were also easier to handle because of the smaller diameter in the spiral.
The horn remained an important element in depicting the hunt in orchestral music (especially in the opera). A good example is the 'Hunters' Chorus' in Carl Maria von Weber's Freischutz (1821).